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Alien (Britney Spears song)

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"Alien"
Song by Britney Spears
from the album Britney Jean
Genre Dance-pop
Length 3:56
Label RCA
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • William Orbit
  • HyGrade
Britney Jean track listing
"Alien"
(1)
"Work Bitch"
(2)

"Alien" is a song by American recording artist Britney Spears for her eighth studio album Britney Jean (2013). It was written and produced by William Orbit, Ana Diaz, and Dan Traynor, with additional songwriting provided by Spears,and Anthony Prestonz. "Alien" is a mid-tempo dance-pop song, which lyrically discusses Spears' feelings of loneliness. "Alien" received acclaim from music critics, who appreciated its production and recognized it as being among the more personal offerings from the record. The track peaked at number 8 on the US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles and debuted at 147 on the French Singles Chart despite not being a single from Britney Jean. The track has been performed during Spears' ongoing residency show Britney: Piece of Me.

Background[edit]

After serving as a judge on the second season of the American version of The X Factor, Spears began work on her eighth studio album in December 2012.[1] In May 2013, record producer William Orbit was announced to be working on the project.[2] Upon the announcement of her record in September, titled Britney Jean, Spears described her collaboration with Orbit, titled "Alien", as "really cool" and "really great".[3] Early reports speculated that the song would feature American recording artist Lady Gaga, as suggested by a tweet posted to Twitter by executive producer will.i.am,[4] although such a collaboration never came to fruition.[5]

On November 18, preceding the release date of Britney Jean on December 3, a demo version of the track was leaked online; Orbit commented that it was the "right song [with the] wrong chorus notes", which had been corrected on the final production.[6] On December 22, Spears announced through her E! documentary special I Am Britney Jean that "Alien" would likely be released as a single from Britney Jean in 2014.[7]

In July 2014, audio leaked of Spears singing the song without pitch correction.[8] James Lachno of The Daily Telegraph noted that Spears struggles to project her voice and reach the song's high notes.[9] Critics described Spears' vocal performance in the leaked track as "flat at best and, at worst, like a strangled cat",[8] "noticeably off-key",[10] "unpolished [and] unflattering",[11] "diabolical",[12] "a style that might kindly be described as tentative",[9] and "toxic to the ears".[13] CNN defended the track, saying that its quality is irrelevant as Spears is not known for her vocal ability.[14] Orbit claimed that the audio was a vocal warm up, not expected to be a take, and not intended to be heard by the public, adding, "Whomever put this on the internet must have done so in a spirit of unkindness, but it can in no way detract from the fact that Britney is and always will be beyond stellar! She is magnificent! And that’s that."[13]

Composition[edit]

"Alien" is a midtempo[15] dance-pop[16] song; it was written by Spears, William Orbit, Dan Traynor, Ana Diaz, and also Anthony Preston.Produced by handled by Orbit and HyGrade.[17] Genevieve Koski from The A.V. Club felt that its musical style "[picked] up where Femme Fatale's folk-laced closer "Criminal" left off [by opening] Britney Jean with an intriguing folktronica departure".[15] Greg Kot from the Chicago Tribune described the production as a "light, airy slice of melancholic dance-pop, reminiscent of Madonna's Orbit-produced Ray of Light album."[16] Nick Catucci from Entertainment Weekly stated that "Alien" is a "gently pulsing track in which an actual extraterrestrial finally realizes she's 'not alone,' and repeats the phrase until it is pitchshifted up like a departing space ship."[18]

Two minutes and fourteen seconds into the song, a vocal glitch is present as Spears sings the lyrics "and the light in your eyes", over which Orbit revealed that "there is actually a long story behind all of this which [he] would love to tell", and noted that "what has been called the ‘demo’ is not in fact the actual original demo."[19] Orbit joked about the matter, saying that the true cause of the glitch is that they "were kidnapped by Aliens and actually spent a year on their ship making friends, doing shows, creating Alien music [...] Then we travelled back to 2:14 in the track, with just that glitch to show for it."[20] On January 25, 2014, Orbit hinted on Twitter that the glitch might be a fail of production held by the album's executive producer, will.i.am: "Remember 'Glitchgate'? I assure you all that there will.be.no[sic] more glitches".[21]

Critical reception[edit]

"Alien" received general acclaim from music critics, who appreciated its production and recognized it as being among the more personal offerings from the record. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic noted that Orbit was the only producer associated with the project that appropriately handled "[Spears'] sad, existential loneliness [by] placing it firmly in the center" of the track.[22] Genevieve Koski from The A.V. Club complimented Spears for recording a midtempo track, which she felt showcased her vocal abilities better than the "robo-coo" that Spears is commonly associated with.[15] Writing for Chicago Tribune, Greg Kot opined that "Alien" was the only song from Britney Jean that felt "vulnerable [and] personal".[16]

Nick Catucci of Entertainment Weekly shared a similar sentiment, expressing enjoyment of the "weird and wonderful intimacy" of the track,[18] while Michael Gragg of The Guardian appreciated the experimental nature of its production.[23] Kevin Harley from The Independent made favorable comparisons to Ray of Light by Madonna, and felt that "Alien" was one of Spears' stronger "multi-producer alliances" from the record.[24] Writing for Slant Magazine, Sal Cinquemani saw "Alien" as an opportunity in which Spears successfully "[pushed her] sound forward",[25] though Barry Walters from Spin felt that her vocal performance failed to match the more solemn production of the song.[26]

In light of the leaked audio, Lucas Villa of AXS listed "Alien" as the fifth best song of 2014, calling it a "gorgeous folktronica tune" that "hit home for the oft-guarded singer." He added that "[h]opefully all the fuss led people to the original version, one of Spears' best recent works."[27]

Live performances[edit]

Spears performed "Alien" during her ongoing residency show Britney: Piece of Me, held by Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. During a notable performance of the track on February 19, 2014, Spears was revealed to have been lip synching when the backing track continued playing and Spears missed her cue while interacting with the audience.[28] When the April arm of Britney: Piece of Me began, "Alien" was cut in favor of "Do Somethin". Following her break-up with her boyfriend David Lucado in August 2014, Spears removed "Perfume" from the set list for few shows in favor of "Alien".[29]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Britney Jean.[15]

Recording

Personnel

Charts[edit]

"Alien" debuted at number 147 on the French Singles Chart, published by the Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.[30] For the week of July 26, 2014, "Alien" debuted at number eight on the US Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.[31]

Chart (2013–14) Peak
position
France (SNEP)[32] 147
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[33] 8

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Britney Spears begins work on eighth studio album - Music News". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  2. ^ Andy Joannou (May 27, 2013). "Naughty Boy, William Orbit working on new Britney Spears album". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  3. ^ Madeline Boardman (October 15, 2013). "'Britney Jean' Confirmed As The Name Of Spears' Eighth Album". The Huffington Post. AOL. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  4. ^ Andy Joannou (October 15, 2013). "Britney Spears, Lady Gaga collaborate on 'Britney Jean' song 'Aliens'?". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  5. ^ Zayda Rivera (November 18, 2013). "Britney Spears’ single ‘Alien’ leaks weeks before ‘Britney Jean’ album release". Daily News. Mortimer Zuckerman. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Britney Spears' 'Alien' Leaks Ahead Of 'Britney Jean' Release". The Huffington Post. AOL. November 18, 2013. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  7. ^ Jacques Peterson (December 22, 2013). "Britney Spears Confirms 'Alien' As Future 'Britney Jean' Single". Popdust. Retrieved December 22, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Denham, Jess (July 9, 2014). "Britney Spears sings 'Alien' without Auto-Tune in embarrassingly brilliant leaked audio clip". The Independent. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Lachno, James (July 10, 2014). "Britney Spears: hear her singing without autotune to Alien". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Hear Britney Spears warming up without Auto-Tune in leaked track". CBS News. CBS Interactive. July 9, 2014. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  11. ^ Eakin, Marah (July 9, 2014). "Here’s a recording of Britney Spears without AutoTune". The A.V. Club. Onion Inc. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  12. ^ Adams, Cameron (July 9, 2014). "Yikes! This is what Britney Spears sounds like without autotune". Page Six. New York Post. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Parker, Lyndsey (July 9, 2014). "Producer William Orbit Defends Auto-Tune-Free Britney Spears Song Leak". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Is this Britney Spears singing?". YouTube. CNN. July 10, 2014. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  15. ^ a b c d Genevieve Koski (December 3, 2013). "Britney Spears hands the reins to Will.i.am for her "most personal album ever"". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c Greg Kot (December 2, 2013). "Britney machine buries 'personal' songs in 'Britney Jean'". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. Archived from the original on December 23, 2013. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  17. ^ Britney Jean (Media notes). Britney Spears. RCA Records. 2013. 
  18. ^ a b Nick Catucci (December 5, 2013). "Britney Jean Album Review". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  19. ^ Brad O'Mance (November 28, 2013). "William Orbit’s been confusing matters when it comes to Britney’s ‘Alien’". Popjustice. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Twitter / WilliamOrbit: Then we traveled back to 2:14 ...". Twitter. November 29, 2013. Retrieved December 23, 2013. 
  21. ^ Andy Joannou (January 25, 2014). "William Orbit criticizes will.i.am over Britney Spears album production". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved April 10, 2014. 
  22. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Britney Jean - Britney Spears". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  23. ^ Michael Gragg (November 27, 2013). "Britney Spears: Britney Jean – review". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  24. ^ Kevin Harley (December 1, 2013). "Britney Spears, 'Britney Jean' (RCA) - album review". The Independent. Independent Print. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  25. ^ Sal Cinquemani (November 26, 2013). "Britney Spears: Britney Jean". Slant Magazine. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  26. ^ Barry Walters (December 3, 2013). "Britney Spears Goes Blanker Than Usual on the Nightmarish 'Britney Jean'". Spin. Spin Media. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  27. ^ Villa, Lucas (January 14, 2015). "Top 30 songs of 2014: #1-5". AXS. 
  28. ^ Sam Lansky (February 19, 2014). "Britney Spears Forgot to Lip Sync During Her Las Vegas Show, But That’s Okay". Time Inc. Retrieved April 10, 2014. 
  29. ^ Villa, Lucas (August 29, 2014). "Britney Spears breaks up with boyfriend, re-adds 'Alien' to Las Vegas show". AXS TV. Retrieved September 6, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Britney Spears - Alien". Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved December 23, 2013. 
  31. ^ "Bubbling Under Hot 100: July 26, 2014". Billboard. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Lescharts.com – Britney Spears – Alien" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved December 23, 2013.
  33. ^ "Britney Spears – Chart history" Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 for Britney Spears. Retrieved July 17, 2014.

External links[edit]